In most cases, there are some standard icons, right? Think electronic bin, computer management access, program icons, and the like. Besides, most of us like to “temporarily” save files on the desktop, especially the ones we are currently working on, for ease of access. Many people also like to use the desktop as a download location, to extract email attachments from the emails and be able to work on them until sending them on. Another category of files on the desktop is based on the use of the desktop as a ToDo list, or because we are afraid of losing track of the file in another location.
It’s interesting to look at other people’s desktops, isn’t it? We usually see stuff there that we would never have placed in that area, or are wondering how they could do without a couple of icons we feel are indispensable for the proper functioning of our daily routine. However, at the end of the day, there are several issues with all of those, and it really boils down to two things: keep the desktop clear of things that do not belong there in the first place or can be easily placed elsewhere, and basic maintenance of whatever remains.
As with all clutter, electronic or physical, once there is a critical weight of stuff, it starts attracting others exponentially. It is important to find a way to make use of the desktop for the purposes you require, without it becoming a dumping ground for things that either belong elsewhere or have no place to go at all.
There is also a security concern with the desktop. If you work on an office network, the automatic backup systems do not always back up your local desktop on a regular basis. In case of computer breakdown – and that is especially true for laptops that are not always connected to the LAN – your desktop files may just be lost for good.
All this begs the question: “How can I limit the number of items on my desktop?”
A lot of the files on the desktop have ended up there because we want to refer to them regularly. That – in itself – is a sound plan. Believe me: I’ve done that, too. If you have just a handful of those, why not? There are a couple of conditions I would like you see imposed on those, though, to keep help identify clutter and avoid it in the long term:
Convenience location files
The desktop is usually filled with lots of files because it is such a convenient location to save stuff to if you have neither time nor inclination to look for a better place. Never forget: laziness creates clutter! The most common reasons for convenient filing on the desktop are downloads you want to keep working on straight away, email attachments that need to be saved somewhere, and emergency saving when time runs short.
Once more, there is no problem with either of those, provided they are being taken care of afterwards and moved to the location they should really have been saved in from the start. You may want to consider the following tips, though:
Even with as much checking going on as you can muster, there will undoubtedly be files you have overlooked, especially if they sit in a desktop folder.
Most operating systems have several ways of accessing applications, usually some kind of toolbar holding a set of standard options and allowing you to add to it and manage as you go along. That would be the natural place to host anything relating to starting and running programs on your machine.
Sadly, most downloads and installations will place an icon not only on the toolbar, but also on the desktop (and the menu, in many cases). My advice is to find the place away from the desktop that you can access your new program with, and then remove the program icon from the desktop right away. It is just clogging up your view and ultimately makes you lose time because you have to decide which option to use and then look for it.
Ask the ClutterMeister
Some pertinent ideas from the 'old office dog' who has seen it all, to help clear away the mess in your office.
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My name is Tilo Flache and it is my mission to help my clients organise and declutter their work spaces.